Supreme Court blocks ex-CoL student’s appeal

The Supreme Court has refused a former College of Law (CoL) student permission to appeal his defeat in a disability discrimination battle with the CoL over Legal Practice Course (LPC) examination provisions.

In February, the Court of Appeal (CoA) rejected Justin Burke’s appeal against the dismissal by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) of his claims against the CoL and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) alleging they breached disability discrimination laws in failing to make reasonable adjustments for sitting exams.

Among the concessions made to Burke, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, were allowing 60 per cent extra exam time, splitting each exam into two and providing rest breaks of 15 minutes per hour.

When he failed the exams Burke launched a claim alleging he should have been permitted three days at home to complete each exam to prevent him from being put at a disadvantage in comparison to other students.

The CoL and SRA said the exam’s time requirement was a “competence standard” within the meaning of the legislation and the obligation to make reasonable adjustments did not apply, but that in any event reasonable adjustments had been made.

Dismissing Burke’s appeal, the CoA backed the EAT ruling that the adjustments made to the time requirement were reasonable and there was no need to rule on whether the time requirement is a competence standard.

A panel of three Supreme Court justices have now refused Burke’s application “because the application does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered by the Supreme Court at this time, having regard to clear decisions in courts/tribunals below and the very fact-specific nature of the issues.”

The CoL declined to comment.